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All councils must develop and implement a Resourcing Strategy for the provision of appropriate and realistic resources (ie. the means) to achieve the objectives and broad strategies identified in its Community Strategic Plan (CSP).

The Resourcing Strategy includes the following mandatory requirements:

  • Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP): 10 year minimum
  • Workforce Plan (WP): 4 year minimum
  • Asset Management Plan(s) (AMPs): 10 year minimum

The IP&R Manual (2013) describes the Resourcing Strategy as a decision making and problem solving tool - a critical link in translating strategic objectives and broad strategies into actions, with the required Long Term Financial Plan, Asset Management Plans and Workforce Plan acting as a reality check for discussing, detailing and prioritising actions in the Delivery Program and Operational Plan.

In addition, preliminary consideration of future resourcing and basic information on assets, staffing and finances should be raised up-front in the community engagement process underpinning the Community Strategic Plan.  Acknowledging limitations and financial realities can assist in prompting the community to nominate priority actions, realistic service levels and alternative funding/ delivery actions (eg. volunteering).

As indicated above, the Resourcing Strategy has three essential elements:

a) Long Term Financial Planning

b) Workforce Planning

c) Asset Management Planning

a) Long Term Financial Planning 

Many local councils have limited finances to fund existing programs and projects, let alone new ones. Active living and healthy eating may not be seen as priorities. In some areas council action to improve the financial situation could run counter to such ambitions (eg. reclassifying and selling "community land’’).

In preparing Long Term Financial Plans, local councils need to identify the pressures to be addressed over the longer term and to find sufficient council resources to realistically address community aspirations. Another challenge is to identify how ongoing management will generate incomes or offset costs, and therefore justify the allocation of limited resources.

b) Workforce Planning

A local council’s workforce is its most valuable asset. Workforce Plans must address the human resource requirements of the Delivery Program – hence the four-year time frame. They can do a number of things - ensure staff levels and skills match the programs and actions proposed in the one and four-year plans, introduce training programs and allocate clear responsibility for program/ service delivery.

Over time, Community Strategic Plan objectives and workforce planning may influence council organisational structures. In relation to both active living and healthy eating, this could be significant for place-making, where a coordinated approach can deliver attractive and safe neighbourhoods and activity centres and incorporate gardens and planting.  At present, in a number of councils, ‘place managers’ fulfil this role.

Traditional organisational structures do not prioritise community health and well-being, with the various activities listed above spread across the organisation. As a result, such issue-based initiatives require the establishment of formal and/ or informal working groups.

Active living and healthy eating considerations should also be taken into account when preparing a longer-term training plan. Specific training needs might include:

  1. Councillors
    • Benefits of active living and healthy eating in improving the health of residents and reducing environmental impacts, congestion and social isolation.
    • National and State level health data and the role of physical activity and healthy eating in promoting health.
    • Local demographic break-downs and projections, and existing/anticipated health needs and costs.
    • The role of the built environment in supporting human health.
    • How council actions contribute to the provision of supportive physical and social environments and availability of and access to healthy food.
    • The integral role active travel plays in creating more sustainable local travel options.
  2. Staff
    • Benefits of active living and healthy eating in improving the health of residents and reducing environmental impacts, congestion and social isolation.
    • The potential of the IP&R framework as a coordinating service delivery mechanism.
    • The significance of local structure planning as a mechanism, at the Community Strategic Plan level, for promoting easy and safe access to key destinations.
    • The role of coordinated place-making in promoting safe and attractive activity centres and connections.
    • Active travel options (reducing car dependence) and the legal/ administrative actions for their introduction, funding etc.
    • Health benefits of active living and healthy eating.
    • The role of the built environment in influencing active living and healthy eating.

Staff training could be extended to cover those involved in relevant local committees and community groups (eg. Local Traffic Committees and volunteer groups).

c) Asset Management Planning (Strategy and Plans)

Most local council ‘assets’ have something to contribute to active living and healthy eating. For instance:

  • Parks, reserves, playgrounds and aquatic facilities, as places for community gardens and activities.
  • Streets, footpaths, cycleways and walking tracks, for moving around (and for green cover).
  • Traffic management facilities for safety and separation.
  • Streetscape items such as directional signage, furniture, decoration and public art, which enhance the experience of walking.
  • Public buildings, such as cultural/community centres and halls, as venues for health and wellbeing activities.

These are traditional council activities and most of them have always been big budget items. Problems with financing over the years have prompted sophisticated ‘acceptable level of maintenance’ levels as a way to prioritise new works and the maintenance of existing assets. Some local councils have put such questions to their communities as part of their community engagement process.

For example, a large metropolitan council, as part of their engagement strategy, asked residents to nominate the minimum preferred condition level that they did not want to see particular assets drop below. Display posters presented a brief description and an example photo of the asset in each condition level (1 to 4). A similar approach was undertaken by a rural case study council.

The options for asset management are ‘do nothing’, maintenance, improvement and provision (of new assets). The mix of new and existing assets will vary by council area. The obvious split is between ‘growth centres’ and established urban areas. With an eye to the future, redevelopment/retrofitting of suburbs also complicate the mix. 

Active transport options (pedestrian/ cycle networks and public transport) should be a key consideration in asset management. As well as promoting active living, such facilities can improve access to food outlets providing healthy food.

Particular attention should be paid to local councils’ Plans of Management (PoM) for community land – a compulsory requirement under the Local Government Act. Ideally, these place-specific plans should also respond to higher order active living and healthy eating objectives and broad strategies outlined in the Community Strategic Plan. For example, council-managed ‘community land’ may have potential for the provision of community gardens. In addition, Plans of Management and their subsequent Action Plans call upon the energy and resources of volunteers (such as Bushcare and Parkcare groups). This can help to overcome financial and workforce constraints.